Wine expert Karen MacNeil says, “A life with wine is so much richer and more delicious than a life without!” And we couldn’t agree more. Life IS better with wine (in moderation, obviously).
And to help you love what’s in your glass. even more, we asked Karen 10 of our burning wine-related questions. As author of The wine bible (which has just published its third edition and is considered the best-selling wine book in the United States, with more than 800,000 copies in print), she literally wrote the book on wine.
For someone new to wine, what do you think is the best way to use/read it? The wine bible is?
Karen MacNeil: Simply open the book anywhere and start reading! There are sidebars and fascinating stories on every page. Most people read The Wine Bible (WB) in this unconventional way. It’s also fun to buy a bottle of wine, search for that region on the WB, and read while you drink.
What are some of the updates in this release that you are most excited about and why?
Karen: I love the new chapter on Britain, which now makes delicious sparkling wines that have a lot in common with champagne. Climate change has harmed many wine regions, but it has benefited England, making the climate conducive to the production of excellent wines. I also love the new chapter called “In the Beginning…Wine in the Ancient World.” Fascinating!
If people are interested in trying something new and different from the usual Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs and Cabs found on most wine lists and grocery store shelves, are there any wine regions or grapes that you suggest they try? ? Any hidden value?
Karen: Spain and Portugal make sensational wines from native varieties such as Tempranillo and Touriga Nacional (both red grapes). The wine culture in these two countries is ancient, the wines are fantastic and they are THEFT! Many fantastic wines for under $25.
If someone wants to start learning about wine but is overwhelmed and doesn’t know where to start, where should they start?
Karen: The wine is very welcoming. It doesn’t really matter where you start. Simply choose a country and start drinking wines from there. If you drink the wines of a country for, say, six months, you will find that you have actually acquired a good idea of the flavors of those wines. Then move on to country number 2. And so on. Just start!
In your experience, what is most misunderstood about wine? Any common mistakes newbies make?
Karen: People often gulp down wine too quickly. If you swallow too quickly you won’t taste anything and you won’t have any idea how delicious the wine really is.
What are some of your favorite wine and food pairings? Any that you usually have or that might surprise people?
Karen: Champagne and fries are high on my list. Also rosé and grilled cheese sandwiches.
We have seen many wines appear on the market that are specifically marketed as low in calories. Do you have any thoughts on that?
Karen: Low-calorie wines are usually highly manipulated. I’d rather drink half a glass of real wine than a glass of low-calorie wine (usually not very good).
Have you seen any wine categories or regions really gain popularity this year? Have you ever seen people lose interest?
Karen: Interest in wine is increasing around the world. EVERYTHING is interesting.
Are there any wine trends you expect to take off in 2023? Any you wish would disappear?
Karen: Wine takes time, years. It often takes 10 years or more to plant a vineyard and make and age a wine BEFORE it is released. Wine is the latest non-trend. I love it for that.
We’re sure this is like asking you to choose a favorite child, but if you could only have three wines for the rest of your life in your glass, what would they be?
Karen: Champagne (from France of course), Pinot Noir from California and Oregon, German and Austrian Riesling.
Big thanks to Karen for taking the time to answer our questions! And, for the record, we couldn’t agree more with her take on low-calorie wine. Greetings to all! —Jenna
Some content/photographs taken from The Wine Bible, Third Edition by Karen MacNeil. Workman Publishing © 2022